As a YU Graduate: A Reflection on the YU College Experience

By: Shneur Levy  |  May 24, 2024

By Shneur Levy, Opinions Editor

As commencement for the class of 2024 approaches, I’ve found myself pondering my time at YU so far. As a current lower senior with only one more semester of college to go, I had the option to either attend commencement in May 2024 or May 2025. To me, the choice seemed obvious: attend commencement in 2024 with all the other students my age. Some may have only done shana alef in yeshiva, while others may have started as true freshman in 2020, and some may have even had enough on campus credits to graduate, because like me, they only did a half a year of shana bet. Regardless, we are all the same. The option of having to wait a full semester after I’ve technically finished my classes to come to New York for commencement, while not knowing where I’ll be come May 2025, seemed inconvenient; I would rather not have to put my life on hold just to come for graduation. While grappling these two options is hard, it never crossed my mind not to attend graduation at all. Doing so would forgo the closure that comes with commencement and that was not something I was willing to do because I have never graduated in a cap and gown. How is that possible? What happened to my high school graduation? Simply put: the pandemic happened. Thus actually having a fun graduation is definitely a priority on my list, and not something I want to miss.

As I previously mentioned, I only did half a year of shana bet. Ironically though, I was actually hoping to do shana gimmel. But alas, as the saying goes, “Man plans and G-d laughs.” I had spoken to my Rosh Yeshiva, and we had decided that it would be better if I got my life started and my career plans underway. I recall vividly meeting with a YU academic advisor while still in Israel with my flight booked during orientation. Let’s just say she wasn’t very happy that I would be jet lagged for the first week of classes. In my defense, I didn’t know that I would be starting college until the Monday before. 

It has been quite the journey since my first semester at YU and I’m so grateful to Hashem that I am almost finished. One of my friends was quite jealous that I do not yet need to start wondering what I will be doing post-graduation, but honestly, I still am. Luckily, I still have a whole semester to figure out what lies ahead. Although taking a gap year is an option, inevitably, I will have to end up deciding what I want to do with my future. Will I accept a job that has nothing to do with my degree? One that is relevant to my psychology major like working at the psychiatric unit in a hospital or as a psychology research assistant? Or, honestly, I might go backpacking in Europe. There are so many options and choosing one is quite the dilemma indeed. This fear of the unknown can be extremely unsettling. Yet, at the end of the day, I know that Hashem will guide me in my future endeavors. Therefore, despite not knowing where life will take me, I am excited about what the future might hold. 

Putting all of my worries aside, looking back, I am so grateful for all of the experiences that I have gained throughout college. I definitely feel that by challenging myself in all aspects of college, I have grown immensely during my time at YU. I never would have imagined that I would become the head lifeguard at the Wilf campus pool, and participate in the YCDS play, all while finishing my degree. Specifically, it has been an absolute pleasure working as an editor for the YU Observer this past year, and I urge anyone with an interest in writing or a passion for any topic to utilize this opportunity to share your voice with others. 

As I put on my graduate glasses and prepare for the most chill semester of my undergrad career, I can truly say I believe that YU was a good choice for me. At certain points in my three years on campus, I often felt like switching schools or taking a leave of absence and going to Israel, but I rolled with the punches and now I get to reap the benefits of my decision. There are aspects of this university that I don’t like, but that’s the same with every college. If there aren’t things a person would want to change about the place they are in then they are living in a fantasy world. I have found that people often critique the institution that they attend because they care about it and want it to improve. The same goes for YU: we know it can be better and therefore we strive to help it grow precisely because it means so much to us.  

So, to you my dear reader, I hope that YU lives up to your expectations. Even if college is sometimes hard, push through those challenges; the precious memories that come along with the YU experience are so worth it. Time goes by faster than we realize, so savor these moments while you are still living in them, because eventually, before you know it, you will be the one writing an article about graduating.

Photo credit: Yeshiva University